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Escribano

Posts: 6254
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England, living in Italy

Old Western guns 

I've always been interested in guns and shooting, especially since learning more when I lived in the US. My interest does not extend to home security or shooting animals etc. Just the historic and mechanical evolution of such.

I recently discovered that you can own and fire black powder rifles and revolvers in the UK, under strict legal conditions. So, I am exploring that option, just for fun.

This is not a political thread about American gun laws and I will not allow it to turn into one.

I was tinkering with a couple of decent replicas over the holidays - an 1873 Colt SAA and an 1866 Winchester (the "Yellow Boy") saddle-ring carbine. Filed away casting marks and ageing them for wall display. I am awaiting some gun browning for the Colt as it is too shiny, but here is the Winchester so far. I spent a lot of time with brown and black boot polish and Tru-Oil to improve on the cheap wooden stock. I made my own walnut grips for the Colt but a new rifle stock is a different proposition.

It's my homage to the Native American decoration of tacking. The same model that out-gunned Custer at Little Big Horn. Just need some old rawhide to wrap the forearm.

Anyone else share my interest?







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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 4 2016 16:28:02
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 3247
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Old Western guns (in reply to Escribano

A very nice looking Winchester, Simon!

I have always been interested in old firearms and blades (both swords and knives/daggers). I'm not a major collector, but have picked up a few along the way. During the mid-'60s I spent several years in the U.S. Air Force and at one point was assigned for over a year at an intelligence gathering Air Force station near Peshawar, Pakistan. Visited the Khyber Pass and some tribal areas on several occasions, and went to Afghanistan as well (which still had a king, which tells you how long ago it was!)

In Afghanistan, I picked up a flintlock pistol in the Kabul Bazaar. It was originally British but had been decorated at some point in the mid-19th century with mother-of-pearl inlay on the grip. The mother-of-pearl would have been obtained from the Arabian Sea at the time and brought up from India (now Pakistan). The tribesmen in what is known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan still carried the long-barreled jezails and the occasional British .303 Lee-Enfield, the workhorse of the British Army from about 1895 to the 1920s and beyond. Once, some friends and I went camping and fishing in the Swat Valley of Pakistan, and we hired a tribesman to guard our camp. He carried a .303 Lee-Enfield and let each of us shoot it. I still have the shell casing from my shot as a souvenir.

Swords have always interested me, but one of my treasures is a kukri, the inwardly curved and sharp-edged weapon carried by the famed Gurkhas. I visited Hong Kong in 1977, when there were still a couple of British-officered Gurkha battalions stationed there. I made arrangements to meet the commander, a Lt. Col. who had cut his teeth in Malaya during the 1948-60 Malaya Emergency. We had a great conversation, and as I made ready to depart, he graciously gave me a kukri as a memento of my visit.

Bill

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With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 4 2016 18:28:06
 
Escribano

Posts: 6254
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England, living in Italy

RE: Old Western guns (in reply to BarkellWH

So, you have relics of the British Empire and I am interested in 19th Century US. My grandfather had .303s, Gurkha knives and bayonets lying around when I was a toddler. I often played with a duelling rapier. How times have changed

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 5 2016 10:16:06
 
Ruphus

Posts: 3782
Joined: Nov. 18 2010
 

RE: Old Western guns (in reply to Escribano

No clue of real guns. But I loved colts as toys. In the sixties there were some really nice specimens to be had, some of which could probably be drilled to real shooters. My favoured one, manufactured like a gem, was gone like most of stuff when I returned from abroad as teenager. Darn nephew ...

Always loved the way winchesters are. Shoot, load, shoot, load.
Never got beyond air guns though with which I aimed at backstops exclusively.

Just like with bow and arrow (which I like the most), hatchet, throwing knifes, speers, ... billiard, boule playing ... I consider them all means to train one´s imaginary preparation.

Practically, ... in childhood I once hit a wild bird with a throwing knife, and another time pierced a guy´s calf from around 150 m distance with the bow. Both occurances cured me from pointing anything at anyone.
-

The shape of the pictured stock looks not right to me. Too short, too small, too skinny. And it doesn´t appear like of dense hardwood. (After all, one needs to knock out cattle-thieves with it. And it must survive slipping down the rocks when you wrestle with the cougar.) Also the barrel part is not fitting accurately / not crafted well.
I would either let the wood parts be removed and redone by a specialist if possible, or redo it with lots of dedication myself.

Some things need only mms here or there to look wrong.

Ruphus
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 5 2016 21:17:12
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 3247
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Old Western guns (in reply to Escribano

quote:

So, you have relics of the British Empire and I am interested in 19th Century US.


Two places I never tire of visiting when in London: The British Museum and the Imperial War Museum. Sometimes I think the world was a better place when a quarter of the globe was British pink (the color on the map), and the Empire was an expanse on which the sun never set. There I go again, being politically incorrect!

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 5 2016 22:50:26
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3131
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Old Western guns (in reply to Escribano

I suppose the most interesting firearms I grew up with are the pair of Colt Third Model Dragoon revolvers my great-grandfather carried regularly and had with him when he was wounded at the battle of Shiloh in the Civil War, taking him out of action for nearly a year. They are in the gun room at the ranch, and are taken out of the cabinet and fired on special occasions.

At some point they were converted from cap and ball to metallic cartridges, though the black powder cylinders are still with them. My great-grandfather carried them throughout his active life.

In several post-Civil War photos he is seen in a gray frock coat and slouch hat, strongly resembling the uniform of a Confederate officer, with the ribbons of Confederate medals on the lapel, astride a gray Tennessee walking horse, said to be the first cousin of Lee's famous Traveler, though I haven't seen the stud book..

In one photo, somewhere in northern Mexico around 1890-1900, he and the ranch foreman appear with the dome of a church in the background behind a wall, accompanied by their regular escort. The foreman wears a traje de charro, and is mounted on a handsome Palomino rigged in black leather studded with silver conchos.

The escort consists of seven fairly rough looking vaqueros, mounted on wiry quarter horses. They sport handlebar mustaches, sombreros de alas anchas, bandoleros crossed on the chest, filled with spare cartridges for their 1873 Colts and the 1873 Winchesters under their left legs. They are formed not in a rank, but in echelon, affording each a free field of fire in nearly all directions.

The foreman's great-grandson and I have asked quite a few people whether they could identify the church, but no success to date. Descendants of four of the vaqueros still live on the ranch.

Also in the gun room are my grandfather's Purdey double rifle in .450 Rigby Express, his Mannlicher-Schönauer carbine in the Spanish 7mm Mauser cartridge, his 1894 Winchester octagon barrelled and engraved lever action in .30-30 caliber, and three 1930s Browning bolt actions in various calibers, with matched Circassian walnut stocks and Grade 1 engraving.

My father's Purdey side-by-side 12 gauge went directly from him to my son, with a stock refit by the shop in London. When I moved overseas in 1991 I left my firearms with my son for safekeeping. I have'nt asked for them back, but I think I might ask for one of them. It is a Colt 1911A1 .45 Auto, accurized by Bob Chow in 1960, decorated as a birthday present from my girlfriend Alicia by the San Luis Potosi artisan Silvio Barragán Velazquez. It's in the older silver and gold cactus flower style, not all shiny gold and jewels like the narcos have nowadays. The mother-of-pearl grips have the Mexican eagle and serpent carved into the left scale, the Texas lone star on the right.

I probably won't fire it much, but I would like to have it as a souvenir of those now-distant days.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 6 2016 4:29:40
 
Ruphus

Posts: 3782
Joined: Nov. 18 2010
 

RE: Old Western guns (in reply to Escribano

Regarding old times, my grandfather used to pose with rifles standing next to hunting prey. Probably mandatory for an aristocrat of his time.

But I doubt him to have really enjoyed shooting down game. After all, as an assumed pioneer and supporter of emancipation he let his spouse run down the estates. (With rumours claiming that he suicided in grief, watching her wrecking everything through gambling.)
Not really what you´d expect from a gun hero.
-

Am I the only one finding the wooden parts misshaped?

Ruphus
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 6 2016 9:04:18
 
Escribano

Posts: 6254
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England, living in Italy

RE: Old Western guns (in reply to Ruphus

I shot at a small bird with an air rifle when I was a kid and was surprised to hit it. Then I saw it had died with a stick in its beak (to make a nest, I guess). Never again.

quote:

Am I the only one finding the wooden parts misshaped?


If you mean the fitting around the receiver, you are correct and it is work in progress That is why I said "so far". It is not a hard wood, as I mentioned, but making another stock out of walnut is beyond my means and my tools at this point. I will do some more shaping with what I have.

There are no definitive plans for the rifle as they still commercially protected but the general proportions are pretty good. I am no gunsmith, nor an expert on the Winchester 1866. It's just for fun and wall display, not a museum.

Ironically, these replicas are made in Spain.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 6 2016 9:31:14
 
Ruphus

Posts: 3782
Joined: Nov. 18 2010
 

RE: Old Western guns (in reply to Escribano

I hadn´t grasped that you carved the wooden parts too. (Thought it´s only been about finish.)
Sorry for having been so mean.

To your relief from dungeon it´s got to be mentioned though that the metal base of the stock dictates small dimensions.

Interesting too hear that winchesters are still protected! Must be patents in that realm to be valid for way longer than artistic, pharamceutic etc. products.

Ruphus
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 6 2016 9:59:00
 
Ricardo

Posts: 12998
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Old Western guns (in reply to Escribano

My mom still has my dad's Winchester 30-30 on the wall at her place. My dad said it did not shoot perfectly straight. As a kid I was an aficionado thanks to movies and magazines...more of toy guns. When I couldn't find a decent replica I would make one out of wood (or force my dad to make it in detail for me). I still have an M-60 and a Desert Eagle that he helped me make. Used to love my Mac-10 but it's long gone. My kids have found exact plastic replicas of all the guns I used to love, but they don't really care and break em. When my father passed away (I was 17) my uncle, who was in high position law enforcement, took my fathers hand guns...I always resented that, but kept it to myself till now. I was more into guitar so it wasn't a big deal.

Perhaps knives swords and martial arts weapons are for a different thread? I had a survival knife (a La Rambo back then) and was the only kid I knew that had one. Loved that thing, only got to use it on one camping trip though. Seems so distant but just now realizing I had grown up with a deep respect for weapons somehow...I have none at home now.

Ricardo

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 6 2016 11:44:20
 
Escribano

Posts: 6254
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England, living in Italy

RE: Old Western guns (in reply to Ruphus

quote:

Interesting too hear that winchesters are still protected! Must be patents in that realm to be valid for way longer than artistic, pharamceutic etc. products.


I am not sure the patent is still in force, but plans are commercial property of an existing company and copyright protected.

You might also note that this is a carbine model for horsemen - so lighter and smaller than the long rifle version.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 6 2016 13:08:46
 
Escribano

Posts: 6254
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England, living in Italy

RE: Old Western guns (in reply to Ricardo

My Dad brought me a beautiful sheath knife back from Denmark when I was about 10. I promptly cut my thumb to the bone and hardly ever saw it again.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 6 2016 13:10:00
 
Ruphus

Posts: 3782
Joined: Nov. 18 2010
 

RE: Old Western guns (in reply to Escribano

quote:

ORIGINAL: Escribano

quote:

Interesting too hear that winchesters are still protected! Must be patents in that realm to be valid for way longer than artistic, pharamceutic etc. products.


I am not sure the patent is still in force, but plans are commercial property of an existing company and copyright protected.

You might also note that this is a carbine model for horsemen - so lighter and smaller than the long rifle version.


Thank you for the info. Did not know about both.
-

At around 8 or so I would sneak out with mother´s kitchen knife (which I have here now) and carve figures of fire wood in the cellar.
With mother having had no clue about sharpening (neither me at that time) I had to work all with great force and it borders on mystery that despite all the slipping off there were no limbs cut off.

The irony with the connifer fire wood was that despite of great caution it would almost always split into pieces shortly before the item was accomplished. That stuff simply ain´t suited for carving; but what did I know / had have at hands anyway.

Ruphus
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 6 2016 14:14:36
 
Escribano

Posts: 6254
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England, living in Italy

RE: Old Western guns - Colt .45 (in reply to Escribano

Here's my 1873 Colt Single Action Army. It's work in progress - an experiment in ageing. The guns not bought by the Army were nickel plated and sold on to the public. The nickel chips and wears over time, so I have tried to replicate a well used gun.

I made the grips out of a piece of solid walnut so the grain is mirrored on each side. The originals were cheap and nasty. Some Tru-Oil, then matted with wire wool. I am going to put a few marks in them, darken the finish a little and generally carve them in some more.

Anyhow, it is not an exact replica but it's pretty close, with working action and weighing over 2lbs. The rounds are inert Colt .45s. To be honest, it has taken a lot longer than I planned but it is kind of therapeutic.



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 6 2016 17:17:28
 
Escribano

Posts: 6254
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England, living in Italy

RE: Old Western guns (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:

In one photo, somewhere in northern Mexico around 1890-1900, he and the ranch foreman appear with the dome of a church in the background behind a wall, accompanied by their regular escort. The foreman wears a traje de charro, and is mounted on a handsome Palomino rigged in silver concho-studded black leather.


Can you share the photos of the charros - my favourite look

This is my maternal grandfather in the Garden of Gethsemane in 1939. He was in the Army and made it through the war, but I never met him. He was a keen amateur photographer. This is from his album and I think there is a family resemblance.



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 6 2016 18:48:45
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3131
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Old Western guns (in reply to Escribano

quote:

ORIGINAL: Escribano

Can you share the photos of the charros - my favourite look



The original exists as an 8"x10" glass plate negative. It was recognized by a relative of the foreman's great-grandson while going through personal effects after his own grandfather passed away. The relative lives near Sabinas Hidalgo, between Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo. He gave the negative to the foreman's great-grandson, a close friend of mine, who was himself ranch foreman for nearly thirty years. He is two days younger than I. We spent a lot of time together in childhood and youth, when I spent every summer on the ranch, along with my brother and my cousins.

16"x20" prints were commissioned for descendants of the photo subjects, including the four vaqueros who have been identified, more than 150 in all. Before reading your post, I began to wonder whether the photo had ever been digitally scanned. Speaking on the phone with the foreman's great-grandson, he confirmed that it had not, as far as he knows. We agreed to look into getting the negative scanned.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 6 2016 22:30:59
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3131
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Old Western guns (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

ORIGINAL: Ricardo

My mom still has my dad's Winchester 30-30 on the wall at her place. My dad said it did not shoot perfectly straight.

Ricardo


In Texas lever action guns are generally seen as "brush country" weapons, or saddle guns, carried in a scabbard under one leg. At moderate range (150 yards or so) the 1894 Winchester in .30-30 is a useful firearm, but the bullet drops rapidly with longer range, and I have never fired a lever action as accurate, even at short range, as a good bolt action rifle.

The 1894 Winchester has probably killed more white tail deer in Texas than all other weapons combined. One university summer I worked in the sporting goods department of the Base Exchange at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. Going on javelina (collared peccary) hunts in the south Texas brush country seemed to be a popular pastime among young officers. If they asked me, I would recommend the Winchester. Many had received the same advice from somebody else.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 6 2016 23:00:42
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3131
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Old Western guns (in reply to Richard Jernigan

Hunting and fishing were, and still are integral parts of Texan rural culture. My father and all of my uncles were country boys, and competitive sportsmen. My father hunted only birds. He was a fairly good wing shot. He was the best sport fisherman I ever met.

His younger brother was the best wing shot of the group, one of the very best in Texas, northern Mexico, and Cuba before the revolution.

I hunted deer three times with my uncles and cousins, but quit at the age of 19, having seen more people than deer in a day of hunting. I was not as enthusiastic a fisherman as my father and brother. I was probably over 30 years old before I learned to take a book, a good cigar and a flask of coffee when I went with them. If the fish were biting, I would fish, if not I would read, smoke or drink coffee. They could have great fun fishing from dawn to dusk, without ever catching a single one.

We fished the Texas bays and the Gulf of Mexico, inland lakes in Texas and Oklahoma, trout streams and lakes in Alaska, and the Patuxent River, Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic while we lived in Washington, DC. My father had also fished a number of other waters while stationed overseas.

Bird shooting in particular was a competitive sport among my extended family. We hunted quail and doves in south Texas. For each species there is a limited hunting season and a legal limit on an individual's daily take. The competition was to see who could get his limit first, with the least number of shots fired. My father's younger brother was the usual winner, by a fair margin. Their brother-in-law, Beaufort Hale McC. was the usual runner-up, sometimes winner.

When I began to hunt birds with the men at age 12, after getting his limit Uncle Mac would stand behind me and coach. It takes bright sunlight and copper plated shot to be able to see the actual pellets, but the wadding that is discharged with each shot can be an accurate indicator of errors in leading the bird and allowance for the falling of the shot with range.

My favorite recollection of Uncle Mac is seeing him smiling after taking two birds from a covey of quail that had been flushed by the dogs on command, his double-barreled 12-gauge broken open over his left forearm, casually dredging in the pocket of his vest for two more shells, and reloading to take a third bird at long range--a virtuoso feat of marksmanship which he carried off as though it were perfectly routine.

During the Great Depression Uncle Mac supplied much of the fish and fowl for his family's dinner table, with that shotgun and his fishing rod. Quail are especially good eating.

My grandfather and the ranch foreman taught me to fire a rifle. I was given a BB gun at age ten. In bright sunlight you can see the copper plated pellet as it flies away. They likened hitting the target to reaching out with a long slightly arched twig to touch it. At age twelve I received a single shot .22 caliber rifle for Christmas, and used it under adult supervision, with the understanding that any violation of the rules of safety and good judgment would result in the immediate surrender of the weapon.

While at university I hunted squirrels with my friend Lovell Adair P., in the several hundred acres of oak and juniper woods his widowed mother owned, then in the outskirts of Austin. His mother made a fabulous squirrel stew. She was a dead shot with a pistol. Having spent the night at their house I awoke to a fusillade of gunfire. His mother called to us, "You boys get out of bed and come pick up these rabbits." She had shot four, standing in the front door with her Colt Woodsman .22 pistol. We had rabbit pie for supper.

At that time there was an outdoor pistol range open to the public in Zilker Park. One day Lovell and I were there shooting larger bore pistols, when the Police pistol champion appeared and challenged us. We weren't doing that well when Lovell's mother showed up. She knew we would be at the pistol range when she got off work as the head of the state's purchasing agency. Seeing that we were losing, she went back to the car, got her Smith and Wesson .357 magnum revolver from the glove compartment, and showed the Police champion how it was done.

At times Lovell's cousin Jacob P. would go squirrel hunting with us. Jakie was the great-great-grandson of the first hardware and firearms merchant in Austin, a business established at about the same time the city was in 1839, and which lasted well into the mid-20th century.

The first time Jakie came with us, Lovell and I walked a little behind. Picking up a 2- or 3-inch pebble, Lovell muttered to me, "Watch this." He tossed the pebble into the air, at the same time calling out, "Hey, Jakie!" Jakie turned and shot the pebble out of the air with a .22 caliber bullet. His weapon was a Stevens .22/.410, a single shot rifle barrel over a small bore shotgun barrel. The bluing was almost completely gone, and it had no sights whatsoever.

I said to Jakie, "You must have practiced a fair amount with that thing."

He replied, "Well, from the time I was ten years old I shot a box of .22 shells every day except Sunday, until I got to where I could pretty well hit what I wanted to."

I said, "That's some practice, but only 50 rounds a day?"

"A big box," Jakie responded. A "big box" of .22 ammo holds ten small boxes, 500 rounds.

About the only wildlife I am exposed to here in edge of the city are the birds, and the deer which are still out foraging on my neighbors' lawns if I go out early enough on my morning walk. Once or twice a month I can hear the coyotes howling in the woods a few blocks away.

It has been at least forty years since I fired at a living thing.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 7 2016 4:18:57
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